Sun King Rising is the performance moniker of singer/pianist/songwriter, John Blangero, who lives in south Texas. Well known as one of the world’s leading biomedical research scientists, John decided to return to music after a hiatus focused on his scientific career. Sun King Rising is influenced by organic Rock music like that of Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, early Elton John, and a host of others. Sun King Rising music is filled with southern soul, as demonstrated on the highly acclaimed debut album, Delta Tales, released on the PeacockSunrise Records label. 1 In Music meets the artist.
1 In Music: What is unique about you and your music?
Sun King Rising [SKR]: I write, play, and record retro southern soul/rock but from a fresh perspective. My focus is on the quality of the song, the organic mixture of the musicians, and the underlying story. You’ll find a lot of acoustic piano, a powerful rhythm section, soulful horns, and great gospel style backing vocals on a Sun King Rising record, with some exceptional lead guitar placed in just the right spots.
1 In Music: What or who shaped your music and who supports you?
SKR: My music was shaped in childhood and my teens with a love of gospel music and then classic artists like Leon Russell, Van Morrison, Dan Penn, Joe Cocker, and Elton John. I also always love the sweet soul of the Muscle Shoals / Memphis / Stax / Malaco record scene and singers like Bobby Blue Bland. I’m fortunate that I have an awesome team that supports me ranging from management, PR, record label, musicians, production staff, and diehard friends.
1 In Music: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?
SKR: I’m not sure I have realized that yet! However, I am gratified at the overwhelmingly strong support for my debut album, Delta Tales. The reviews and fan response have been fantastic.
1 In Music: What type of music do you listen to?
SKR: Depending on my mood, I listen to a pretty broad variety of music from early 70s music, Americana, blues, and soul. However, I also listen to classical music and quite a bit of progressive rock since I am the Chairman of the Board for RoSFest, the leading progressive rock festival in the United States.
1 In Music: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?
SKR: Although the late Leon Russell is quite well known, I’ve always thought that he missed out on the superstardom that he deserved. He’s written some classic timeless songs and was an amazing piano player, yet he struggled in his later years.
1 In Music: How do you prepare for your performances?
SKR: I do piano and vocal warm-ups. I also find that I have to spend a lot of time memorizing my own lyrics! I also like to figure out what the best possible set list is for a given audience.
1 In Music: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?
SKR: I’m a biomedical research scientist specializing in the genetic basis of disease risk. I am far better known as a medical scientist than I am for music to date.
1 In Music: Success to you is…?
SKR: [Success is ]Doing what you need to do to be a well-rounded, compassionate, fulfilled human
and being able to satisfy the creative urge which is inside.
Writing songs that resonate with people is the ultimate test of success for a songwriter.
1 In Music: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?
SKR: I would have learned more music theory earlier.
Although I have a good grasp of theory now, I didn’t really acquire it until I was in college. Understanding music goes a long way towards making it easier to share your ideas and musical desires with other musicians.
1 In Music: Talk to us about your current release and any upcoming projects…
SKR: The current Sun King Rising release, Delta Tales, includes 11 songs with a southern soul/rock focus. The album is centered around my vocals and piano playing. The primary theme of the album is life, sin, redemption, salvation, and joy in the South. The album was performed by real musicians playing real instruments in real recording studios to generate an authentic organic sonic palette reminiscent of the early 70s. I wrote eight of the ten songs. The album was produced by the great Ace Acker who really had his work cut-out to bring this album in on time during the pandemic.
I’m hard at work on my second Sun King Rising album which is tentatively titled Signs & Wonders. We should finish the recording by mid-November and get it out in the coming Spring of 2022. I’m excited about this next one because my songwriting has really been inspired of late. In this next album, I will continue mining the southern cultural landscape for lyrical vignettes backed with some soul stomping music.
1 In Music: Where do we find you music?
SKR: I record for PeacockSunrise Records. You can find lots of information on Sun King Rising at my website, https://SunKingRising.com. My albums are available in all the usual places including the major streaming services. Also, we are about to put the vinyl version of Delta Tales out and that is probably best purchased on our Bandcamp site, https://sunkingrising.bandcamp.com/album/delta-tales.